Review: Hospitality goes through the motions of a neo-noir thriller from the early 90s

Despite some decent performances, this genre film lacks something new and fresh

HOSPITALITY (Nick Chakwin, David Guglielmo). 80 minutes. Opens Friday (December 7). See listing. Rating: NN

So there’s this bed-and-breakfast in the middle of nowhere, run by a nice lady named Donna (Emmanuelle Chriqui) who used to be a sex worker. She left that life behind when she got pregnant and converted the brothel into the B&B, which she admits can be confusing to former clients. 

One of them, Cam (Sam Trammell), has shown up hoping to see Donna again, and is a little disappointed to find out she’s gone legit. But he seems like a decent guy – better than the dirtbag cop (JR Bourne) who stops by for a cut of the B&B’s take, and also to sleep with Donna when the mood strikes – so Donna doesn’t hold it against him. And anyway, he’s really there for something else.

Soon after, an old friend of Cam’s (Jim Beaver) shows up looking for the same thing, and Donna has to figure out how to manage everyone’s expectations – and protect her teenage son (Conner McVicker) – without getting bloody, and before that cop comes by. This being a noirish kind of tale, things do not go as Donna would like.

That’s the pitch of Hospitality, a slim little thriller that, while never actively bad, is never as good as it could be either.

Writer/directors Nick Chakwin and David Guglielmo have taken a solid premise and executed it in the blandest way possible it looks fine, and most of the actors acquit themselves well, but it all just sort of sits there, reminding you of better, sharper works like the Coens’ Blood Simple, James Foley’s After Dark, My Sweet and John Dahl’s Red Rock West – films that used the bones of classic thrillers and built something new and fresh with them. 

Hospitality needs something new and fresh very badly. It’s just bad luck that Chakwin and Guglielmo’s plot turns on the same notion as Drew Goddard’s Bad Times At The El Royale, a film that deployed style by the truckload to distract viewers from its derivative nature. Hospitality doesn’t need that much style – perhaps no movie does – but it needs something: visual flair, or a better score, or snappier dialogue. Really, just any sort of aesthetic approach that would have pulled its familiar beats into focus. 

Instead, despite decent efforts from Chriqui and Trammell and some typically excellent work from Beaver, it just feels like it’s going through the motions.

And even at 80 minutes, it’s half an hour too long.

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